Rand Paul: ‘Sometimes accidents happen’
“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.’ I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business[.] I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it’s part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.”
Cognitive dissonance at its finest.
What does one say to the above quote by Rand Paul when the evidence of what occurred with the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, while certainly accidental, clearly involved a failure to take adequate precautions to avoid the spill. So any blaming is wholly warranted. Americans deserve to know how it is that what many are predicting will be the worst oil spill in the country’s history came to be and who is responsible for it.
If that strikes Rand Paul as “un-American”, I honestly don’t know how to respond to him. Paul is so utterly cocooned in his ideological reality that basic facts seem incapable of shedding sunlight on the actual state of things for him.
While he was not Mitch McConnell’s candidate of choice, I do think that Rand Paul is, in a lot of ways, demonstrating in the days following his election that he is the poster child for the direction that Republicans increasingly seem to be headed. And I take that to be a good thing. Not because I wish the ill of delusional irrelevance on the Party, though I’m no fan. But rather because I think it sets up some much needed dynamics to play out in the coming months.
Various folks from True/Slant’s own Jamelle Bouie, to Kevin Drum, to Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight have warned against the notion that Tuesday’s primaries represent an anti-establishment or anti-incumbent backlash by the electorate. And, you know, I take each of their points.
I do; however, think that there are certain elements of the country’s politics coming to some sort of head and that Tuesday’s primaries are marginally indicative of that clash.
Following their 2006 Congressional loss and the utter failure of the Bush presidency as culminated in 2008’s repudiation election, Republicans and conservatives had an opportunity to gut check and take an honest assessment of where they were at and where they wanted to be headed.
People like Andrew Sullivan, Conor Friederdorf, Charles Johnson, and David Frum, among others, have not let that opportunity slip by. But in the main, movement conservatism has chosen to double down on precisely the kind of worldview that is making it less and less relevant to a majority of Americans.
In many ways, for all the appeal that his father seemed to have in the 2008 election, the disaster that each passing day reveals Rand Paul to be is the logical outcome of that choice.
Alternatively, Democrats and President Obama had an opportunity and a mandate to bring about sweeping change to the country in the form of a bold and unapologetic American liberalism. For all their legislative achievements, the unnecessary concessions that the Obama Administration has insisted on providing has signaled a failure to realize its own opportunity fully.
The Arkansas and Pennsylvania elections might not have been anti-establishment in that the up-start candidates have vowed to more vigorously fight for the President’s agenda, as Jamelle points out. But they are, I think, a repudiation of the Administration’s general trajectory towards ensconcing itself within established ideas about what can and cannot be achieved that have left what it seems like many liberals see as a troubling gulf between the change candidate Obama promised on the campaign trail and the change for which President Obama has been willing to fight while in office.
Granted, stumping and governing are two very different things. But there seem often times to be problematic differences between the President’s rhetoric and actions. This has, despite health care reform wins and now an immanent financial reform, left the President’s relatively depressed, particularly as compared to its conservative counterpart.
So insofar as Sestak, Critz, and potentially Halter have been gaining momentum by vocally supporting Obama, I think the dynamic here is one in which voters are seeking to send people who, at l;east in part, force Obama to live up to his promises and don’t provide the blue dog cover which seems to have been so prevalent. This is a dynamic that even the White House has acknowledged.
Putting aside the establishment question, though, what I think the surges in people like Sestak and Halter’s campaigns seem to indicate is a willingness on the part of movement liberals to go toe-to-toe with movement conservatives in a relatively unbarred fashion. In as much as Rand Paul is disjointing because he says what he thinks regardless of the political ramifications, someone like, say, Joe Sestak is a politicians that is going to be prepared to take Paul on in a blunt and straight forward fashion that, for all his posturing, just isn’t the President’s style.
The potential here is very positive, if not messy. For all the back and forthing that happens between liberals and conservatives in modern American politics, there remains a certain hesitation to just really have it out about core philosophies and principles in an open and honest fashion.
You get Republicans hurling epithets and liberals getting outraged. Opportunistic attacks due to gaffes on both sides. And all the bric-a-brak of political discoruse. But ultimately, appeals to comity and the exaltation of bipartisanship efforts win out and there is a shared desire to, above all preserve the system in which each side is invested.
This leaves a great number of really important debates unheard and an uncomfortable degree of tip toeing necessary. Liberals and Obama have been particularly guilty of this tendency.
But Rand Paul’s ostentatious formulation of political populism makes a full-on brawl almost inevitable. And the election of people like Bill Halter and Joe Sestak would fill the liberal bench just such a cadre of capable political pugilists.
The issues to which Obama’s presidency was supposed to herald an end have only really been pushed down in a mutual scramble to demonstrate that each side, respectively, represents the real turning away from politics as usual. But the issues themselves haven’t gone anywhere and ignoring them — or at least trying — has only allowed them to fester.
An actual bare knuckles political brawl is what is really needed to clear the path for a forward moving politics, nothing less. And folks like Rand Paul are just the politicians to give it to us.
(h/t: Andrew Sullivan)